Margaret L. Carter's News from the Crypt No. 19 (April 2007)
- Welcome to my newsletter, "News from the Crypt," and please visit
Carter's Crypt (www.margaretlcarter.com), devoted to my horror,
fantasy, and paranormal romance work, especially focusing on vampires
and shapeshifting beasties. If you have a particular fondness for
vampires, check out the chronology of my series in the link labeled
"Vanishing Breed Vampire Universe." For my recommendations of "must
read" classic and modern vampire fiction, explore the Realm of the
Also, check out the multi-author Alien Romance Blog:
NEWS: Amber Quill has accepted my erotic romance novelette "Aquatic
Ardor," to be published as an e-book under their Amber Heat line in
May. This story features an undine who inhabits a mountain lake. The
lake's owner, Adam, has returned to his family's vacation retreat in
middle age to assess his life after a heart attack. The undine, Melia,
who remembers him from his childhood and young adulthood, can't help
being drawn to him. An undine who loves a mortal gains a human soul.
But what if she doesn't want one?
Our third son and his wife have just had a baby boy! See a picture in
the Photos section of this group.
This month's fiction excerpt is the second half of the ghost story
"Residual Fumes." If you missed the first half, you can find it in
last month's newsletter in the Archives. This section begins right
after the garage door slams shut, trapping the heroine.
Now here's an interview with Linnea Sinclair, author of the
RITA-award-winning SF romance GABRIEL'S GHOST:
1. What inspired you to begin writing?
--Being that I can't remember NOT writing, it's hard to say. I've
always worked out stories and fantasies in my head. I've thought
lately that it might have come from growing up an only child. You tend
to create imaginary friends and siblings, so you learn character
development--if nothing else.
I'm also a Trek fan from the original days and a long time SF reader.
I frequently rewrote the SF stories I read in my head because there
was never enough of an emotional angle for me. With Trek, of course, I
wanted to be a female captain, equal in rank to Kirk. And I had the
hots for Scotty, so I'm sure that figured in there, somewhere.
2. What genres do you write in?
--SF Romance, predominantly, though I prefer to call it Space Opera
Romance. Or Science Fantasy Romance, since I slip in magic and
telepathy and such where warranted. But I'd like to branch out into
romantic suspense, as I was--in real life--a private detective. My
November release with Bantam, THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES, is a bit of
a "toe in the water" in that as the male protagonist is a Florida
homicide detective (and yes, it's still space opera romance. Think:
MEN IN BLACK meets HILL STREET BLUES).
3. What is your latest or next-forthcoming book?
--Latest book is GAMES OF COMMAND, which Bantam released February 27,
2007. The first thing I talk about with that book isn't the characters
or plot but the fact that my cat is actually on the front and back
cover. I'm so thrilled! Daiquiri--my cat--of course takes it all in
stride and is looking forward to attending my book signings where he
can do (you knew this was coming, right?) PAW-tographs.
GAMES is a fun book, a real space opera romp with two male
protagonists (who hate each other), two female protagonists (who are
best friends) and two furzels, one of which Daq the cat is the cover
model for. Fans of mine who've read my old COMMAND PERFORMANCE will
recognize the characters and some of the scenes but GAMES is
essentially a new book, which lots of new action and definitely a ton
A brief blurb for the book: A mythical void. An age-old evil. A
fragile alliance about to be torn apart. When Doc Eden Fynn's empathic
talents fail to bring answers, Captain Tasha Sebastian must choose who
to trust: the cybernetic admiral who may be programmed by the enemy or
the volatile mercenary far too familiar with Tasha's secret past.
Trouble is, neither man is quite what he seems. GAMES OF COMMAND. If
only furzels could talk
Romantic Times BOOKreviews gave it 4-1/2 stars, their highest rating:
"When it comes to high-flying adventure, political intrigue and dark
romance Sinclair has it aced! This surprising tale is filled with
shifting loyalties, deception and jaw-dropping flying maneuvers. The
characters in this complex novel are all faced with the realization
that what they have always believed may not be the truth and that
powerful emotions can be stronger than any mechanical implants."
4. What are you working on now?
--I'm in final edits on THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES and about to start
CHASIDAH'S CHOICE, the sequel to my RITA-award winner, GABRIEL'S GHOST.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
--First, to remember that writing is an ART and a CRAFT and a
BUSINESS. Neglect any one of the three and you're not doing your book
justice. Yes, you have to tell your story with the passion you feel
for it, but it also has to be grammatically correct and you have to
know what the market is for it, and how to market it. If you want to
see your characters come alive and you want to share their adventures
with readers, you have to pay attention to all three aspects.
The good news is that there is a ton of help out there for aspiring
writers. There are blogs by top agents and published authors you can
learn from, there are writing classes on line, there are professional
writer organizations like SFWA, RWA, MWA and others who have great
conferences where you can meet up with agents, editors and published
authors. You can also meet terrific critique partners--a very
important aspect of writing--on line through these organizations or
But you have to be willing to do the work and put in the time. To me,
it's definitely worth the effort (and late hours!).
6. What's your website URL?
--www.linneasinclair.com and on MySpace: www.myspace.com/linneasinclair
Some Books I've Been Reading:
UN LUN DUN, by China Mieville. In common with Mieville's PERDIDO
STREET STATION, this novel contains a wild profusion of unusual
creatures. (I especially like the animated milk carton, Curdle.) UN
LUN DUN, however, is a YA story somewhat resembling ALICE IN
WONDERLAND in its fast pace, playful use of language, and madcap
creations, but with more of a plot. The setting, UnLondon, comprises
everything discarded in the "real" London, often disassembled and
recombined in surreal ways. We're told that many other "abcities"
exist, such as No York, Hong Gone, and Parisn't. Two friends, Zanna
and Deeba, find their way into UnLondon, where Zanna is hailed as the
Shwazzy (from French "choisi," chosen) destined to save UnLondon from
the monstrous Smog. When they escape back to their own London, Deeba
decides she must return to UnLondon to try to save her friends there
from the menace. She encounters layers of betrayal ultimately
involving a conspiracy in our own world. Along the way, she acquires
several enemies and allies, the latter including a talking book deeply
distressed because its prophecies keep going wrong. The "chosen one"
prophecy is only one of the quest-fantasy tropes Mieville's tale
subverts. For instance, if you already know the goal of the quest, why
do you have to collect all of what one critic has labeled "plot
coupons" first? Why not cut straight to the end? One review I read
faulted the novel for shallow characterization. While I agree that the
UnLunDun creatures tend to the one-dimensional, I disagree about Deeba
and her half-ghost companion Hemi, who seem to me three-dimensional
and well-developed in their ethical and emotional quandaries.
THE FATE OF MICE, by Susan Palwick. A story collection by a writer who
publishes all too seldom. Her mind-blowing first novel, the brief gem
FLYING IN PLACE, was a ghost story about child sexual abusenot at all
what you might think from that description, but non-graphic and
emotionally wrenching, yet with redemption in the end. The title story
in THE FATE OF MICE is told by a mouse who, like the title character
in "Flowers for Algernon," has had his intelligence enhanced. The
mouse in Palwick's story has a human-level IQ and the ability to
speak. His conversations with the little daughter of the scientist who
runs the lab lead to deeply troubling conclusions. My favorites in the
collection are "Ever After," a feminist retelling of "Cinderella" with
a vampire as the fairy godmother, and "Gestella," a terribly sad story
of a female werewolf, proceeding from the premise that (in keeping
with the "dog years" factor) she ages seven times as fast as a normal
woman. This tale is narrated in the second person but manages to be
very effective despite (maybe even because of) that stylistic quirk.
Another emotionally compelling story is "Beautiful Stuff," in which
the dead victims of a 9-11-style terrorist attack are brought back to
quasi-life for a political rally, with unexpected and (to the pro-war
organizers of the event) dismaying results.
THE NEW MOON'S ARMS, by Nalo Hopkinson. At last year's International
Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, I heard Hopkinson read from a
section of this novel, which at that time had the working title "The
Mammalian Diving Reflex." So I was eager to read the book. Set on a
small Caribbean island (Hopkinson herself comes originally from
Jamaica), it's narrated, aside from a few short third-person
interludes, in the first person by a single mother in her fifties. As
a teenager, she changed her name from Chastity to Calamity, an
immediate clue to her personality. The story begins with a slapstick
episode at the funeral of her father, with whom she has had a
difficult relationship throughout her life. She also has a strained
relationship with her grown daughter, married with one child. Calamity
begins to suffer hot flashes accompanied by a resurgence of a psychic
power she had in childhood but suppressed after her mother's
disappearancethe ability to find lost things. Now, though, it
expresses itself more flamboyantly than ever, causing the spontaneous
reappearance of everything from long-lost toys and books to a
full-grown grove of cashew trees. Calamity also finds an injured boy
on the beach. He has several odd traits, such as webbed fingers and
the inability to speak any recognizable language. She soon suspects
him of being a child of the legendary sea people who inhabit the
surrounding ocean. When she becomes his foster parent, she gradually
comes to realize that she is keeping him for her own benefit, not his,
rather than trying to reunite him with his people. Calamity is an
exasperating heroine, prickly, self-centered, and bigoted, yet one
can't help sympathizing with her. In the end, she learns to consider
others' needs before her own and achieves reconciliation with a few of
the people she has alienated. This absorbing magical realism novel is
enhanced by the distinctive island dialect spoken by the narrator and
Excerpt from "Residual Fumes":
Marcie walked over to raise the garage door. Just as her hands
touched the lever, she heard the kitchen door slam. The idea of
spending one minute in that space with no escape hatch made her feel
stifled. She scurried back to the smaller door and grasped the knob.
Her sweat-dampened palm slipped on the brass. After wiping her hand
on her shorts, she tried again. The knob wouldn't turn.
Okay, it's stuck, she told herself. Or I accidentally pushed in the
lock button. No problem, I'll just open the big door.
At the front of the garage, she tugged on the latch until she managed
to wrench it into the unlocked position. But all her strength
couldn't budge the metal door. Panting and sweaty, she paused to rub
her aching arms. It's not that heavy. The heat's making it stick.
That has to be what's wrong. She braced herself and shoved again.
After another minute or two, she leaned against the immobile barrier,
gasping. In the stuffy warmth of the room, she scented gasoline
again. Lou must've spilled a puddle of gas, filling the lawn mower,
in some corner where I didn't see it. Taking shallow breaths, she
made her way to the workbench and rummaged through the tools for a
miniature screwdriver. Picking the flimsy lock of the kitchen door
shouldn't pose a problem.
She poked the screwdriver into the hole in the doorknob and jiggled
it every possible way. The fumes got stronger minute by minute. At
last she heard the mechanism click. The knob still wouldn't turn.
She rattled it, kicked the wooden panel, beat on it with both fists.
The smell of exhaust smoke was now unmistakable. She felt smothered
by the heat, and her head throbbed. She started across the concrete
floor to the front of the house. She stumbled and had to hold onto
walls and shelves to steady herself. The odor made her stomach churn.
Reaching the large door, she gave it one more futile shove. Pounding
on the metal, she screamed until her throat turned hoarse. She sank
to her knees and laid her cheek against the hinge, trying to pretend
she felt a stirring of air.
If I just had my cell phone. But she had left it in her car in the
This is ridiculous. She couldn't suffocate in an empty garage, shut
in by an ordinary pair of doors. If nothing else, she could batter a
hole into the kitchen. She pulled herself to her feet and began
groping her way toward the workbench. Fighting nausea and dizziness,
her vision graying, she fumbled among the tools until her fingers
closed on a hammer. Now all she had to do was find the door.
A deep voice rumbled in her ear, "What do you think you're doing with
Her stomach lurched. Lou! A second later, sanity asserted itself.
No way. Hallucination. Got to get out of here. She turned in a half
circle, unsure which way she needed to walk.
"Damn it, I'm talking to you!" the voice roared.
When she took two blundering steps in what she guessed to be the
right direction, she hit an invisible barrier, staggered backward, and
fell. Her elbow struck the floor with a nerve-jangling pain. For a
few seconds she lay hunched over, coughing and choking. As soon as
she could move, she clutched the nearest shelf to pull herself up.
"You're dead," she gasped.
"Yeah, and it's your fault."
Blinking, Marcie stared at the figure that blocked the path to the
kitchen. It looked like her brother-in-law, dressed in jeans and a
T-shirt, with untidy brown hair framing his deceptively handsome face.
Hallucination or not, he appeared solid. She caught a whiff of beer
"My fault?" The words came out as a feeble croak.
"You encouraged her with that independence crap. Because of you, she
tried to run away."
Marcie felt the fumes thickening around her in a noxious cloud. "Go
back to hell, you --" She gagged on the foul air.
He glided toward her. She threw the hammer. It went right through him.
Laughing, he reached for her. She lurched to one side, and he let
her go. Circling around him, she tried to snatch up the hammer and
fell to her knees. With her head spinning, she struggled to stand up.
"Thanks to you, I'm stuck here like this," Lou's voice said above
her. "I wanted to keep JoAnn with me, but I can't find her anywhere."
"Because she's not dead," Marcie gasped.
"Then she will be soon. And we'll be together forever."
Using the dryer for support, Marcie stood up once more. Her hand
explored the top of the machine and found the folded lingerie from the
last washload, over a week before. She plucked out a sheer nightgown,
which she pressed to her nose and mouth as a barrier against the gas.
The cloth still held a hint of her sister's jasmine cologne, under
the fragrance of soap. JoAnn -- don't let him win.
"She'll never be with you." Gray spots clustered in front of
Marcie's eyes. Her head pounded. She fought to keep a grip on
consciousness, knowing that if she passed out, she would never wake.
If she could only retrieve the hammer and reach the door, she had a
Another voice spoke: "No, I won't. Give up, Lou."
Startled, Marcie tripped and fell again. She tilted her head to
stare upward, bleary-eyed. A female shape hovered between her and
Lou. From Marcie's angle, she saw the woman in profile, with short,
tousled blonde hair. JoAnn stood straighter than she had in life, her
head high with new confidence.
"You're here, babe. I knew you'd join me."
"Think again. I'm here to send you where you belong." She stretched
out her right arm and touched him delicately on the chest. He began
"But honey, I only did it so I wouldn't lose you --" His voice
trailed off to a thin squeak.
"Go away, Lou."
Crouched on hands and knees, Marcie watched him turn transparent and
dissolve to nothing. The kitchen door popped open, and the front of
the garage rattled as the other door lifted up.
A breeze drifted through the garage. She gulped a deep breath.
JoAnn gazed down at her, smiling. "Thank you for trying to save me, sis."
Oh, God, if she's here, she must be dead too! Tears welled in
Marcie's eyes. Through their mist, she saw JoAnn vanish.
Slowly Marcie stood up. The vertigo and nausea receded. The odor of
gasoline was completely gone. Through the open door, she heard the
telephone in the kitchen ringing. Only the hospital knew where to
find her this afternoon.
They're calling to say she died.
Marcie stumbled into the house and grabbed the wall phone.
Swallowing her tears, she answered the caller.
"You'll probably want to come over here right away," said the voice
on the line. "Your sister has just regained consciousness."
Two fiction-related newsletters you might enjoy:
Jewels of the Quill, a writers' group I belong to, has a newsletter
For more information, visit:
To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to:
Moonlight Fantasy, devoted to erotic romance:
Amber Quill Press: www.amberquill.com
Cerridwen Press: www.cerridwenpress.com
Ellora's Cave: www.ellorascave.com
Hard Shell Word Factory: www.hardshell.com
Mundania Press: www.mundania.com
You can contact me at: MLCVamp@...
"Beast" wishes until next time
Margaret L. Carter